Capturing 10,000 years of life through photos

BALTIMORE -- Lately, photographer Danny Goldfield has been hanging out with men and women of a certain age.

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Photographer Danny Goldfield interviews a centenarian for his project "To Live 10,000 Years"
CBS News

"I'm going to photograph two people in each of the 50 states, one man and one woman and each one of those hundred people needs to be at least 100 years old," Goldfield told me.

Subject number one was Captain Jack Slaughter of Baltimore, Maryland. Born in 1914, Slaughter commanded five ships during his 30-year career as a naval officer. He told me that at first he didn't understand why Goldfield wanted to photograph him.

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Jack Slaughter
Danny Goldfield

"Why me?" wondered Slaughter. "I don't feel like I'm any more of a hero than Seaman Jones on my ship, we're all the same."

And yet not many ordinary guys can say they skippered for JFK.

"I wouldn't recognize him but it used to be me," he said, pointing to himself in an old photograph.

I asked Goldfield to tell me about his favorite photo of Slaughter.

"It's just a very simple close-up and he's looking into the camera and there is a sort of calm confidence about this man," said Goldfield.

On the East Coast Goldfield has shot pool playing Miguel Cruz in New Jersey, Arlyne French of Concord, New Hampshire, and in Connecticut, 102-year-old Holocaust survivor David Steinberger and his young wife Fani, 92.

"The two of them were amazing," Goldfield told me. "My face hurt by the end of hanging out with them because they both were smiling so much. The love between them was vivid."

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Holocaust survivor David Steinberger and wife Fani
Danny Goldfield

Christmas found him in Ketchikan, Alaska with 102-year-old fisherman and boat builder Henry Neligan. With each snap of his shutter, Goldfield hopes his subjects are seen with a new focus.

"Sometimes we look and we see an older adult and we see their age, so I'm hoping this project will somehow elevate our consciousness of who these people are, make us want to get to know them better and in the end want to care for them in a way that they deserve," Goldfield said.

In these faces we see 10,000 years of life well lived, and the promise of stories still to be told.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.